BELIZE
 
Also known as: Mother Nature's Best Kept Secret
 
Motto: 
Under the Shade I Flourish 
 
Location:
On the Caribbean coast of Central America with Mexico bordering on the north and part of the west, and Guatemala on the southwest. 
 
History:
Belize was part of the Mayan empire of Central America which flourished between 300 and 900 AD. The country changed hands between Spain and Britain from the early 1600s until 1862 when the country became British Honduras. The country was renamed Belize in 1973 and gained independence in 1981.
 
Elections:
Last elections 2008. Next elections due 2013
 
Ruling Party: 
United Democratic Party (UDP)
 
Major Political Parties: 
 
 United Democratic Party (UDP), People's United Party (PUP), National Alliance for Belizean Rights (NABR) 
Economic Summary: 
Agriculture is the leading sector.  Efforts are advancing to diversify into non-traditional crops such as papaya, cucumber and ginger.  Other export crops include cocoa, vegetables and tropical fruit.
Marine products have become an important source of foreign exchange as well as being a vital domestic food source. 
The forestry industry has been growing in recent years.  Government has initiated a national reforestation programme, adding new impetus to this sector's development.
 
Airport: 
Phillip Goldson International 
 
Status:
Independent - 21 September 1981
 
Capital:
Belmopan
 
Head of State:
H.E. Sir Colville N. Young Snr., GCMG, MBE, PhD, Governor-General
 
Head of Government: 


 

Hon. Dean Oliver Barrow
Prime Minister


Date of Birth: 2 March 1951

Education:

1973:  LLB , University of the West Indies, Cave Hill
1975:  Certificate of Legal Education, Norman Manley Law School, Mona
1981:  L.M. and M.A. International Relations, University of Miami, School of Law

Professional/Political Career:

1983:  Entered electoral politics as candidate for Belize City Council elections
1984-89:  Attorney General and Minister of Foreign Affairs
1990:  Deputy Prime Minister
1993-1998:  Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Minister of National Security, Attorney General
1998:  Leader of United Democratic Party
2008 :  Elected Prime Minister
 

Area:
22,966 km2; 8,866 miles2
 
Population: 
282,600 (2004)
 
Currency
Belize Dollar
 
GDP
EC$2,796.1 Mn (2004)
 
GDP Per Capita (at Current market  Prices)
 


EC$9.894 (2004)
Total Exports: 
EC$569.6 Mn(2004)
 
Total Imports:
EC$1,099.9 Mn (2004)
 
Intra-Regional Exports:
 

EC$63.1 Mn (2004)
Intra-Regional Imports:
 

EC$334.5 Mn (2004)
Business Hours:
Commercial:  08:00 to 16:00 hrs Monday to Friday
Government:  08:00 to 17:00 hrs Monday to Friday
 
National Holidays:
New Year's Day (01 January); Baron Bliss Day (09 March); Good Friday; Holy Saturday; Easter Monday; Labour Day (01 May); Commonwealth Day (24 May); St. George's Caye Day (10 September); Independence Day (21 September); Columbus Day (12 October); Garifuna Settlement Day (19 November); Christmas Day (25 December); Boxing Day (26 December)
 
Holidays that fall on a Sunday are observed the following day.
 
Date of CARICOM Membership: 
 

1 May 1974 
National Anthem:
Land of the Free
O, Land of the Free by the Carib Sea,
Our manhood we pledge to thy liberty!
No tyrants here linger, despots must flee
This tranquil haven of democracy
The blood of our sires which hallows the sod
Brought freedom from slavery oppression's rod,
By the might of truth and the grace of God.
No longer shall we be hewers of wood.
 
Chorus:
Arise! ye sons of the Baymen's clan,
Put on your armours, clear the land!
Drive back the tyrants, let despots flee -
Land of the Free by the Carib Sea!
 
Nature has blessed thee with wealth untold,
O'er mountains and valleys where prairies roll;
Our fathers the Baymen, valiant and bold
Drove back the invader; this heritage bold
From proud Rio Hondo to old Sarstoon,
Through coral isle, over blue lagoon;
Keep watch with the angels, the stars and moon;
For freedom comes to-morrow's noon.
 
Highest National Award:
 
The Queen's Award
Favourite Dish:
Rice and beans with meat and potato salad
 
Government web page:
 
National Symbols:
Belize - National Flag
   

(February 2006)

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